Cutting Board Finish Revisited

Seems like cutting boards are on everyone’s minds these days. Probably because we are all making holiday gifts. Either way, this is the time of year you can expect almost one forum post a day asking a question about cutting board finishes or “food safe” finishes. And the responses to these posts are nearly always the same:
Person 1- The best finish for a butcher block is mineral oil.
Person 2- NEVER use varnish or salad bowl finish on a cutting board! What are you, stupid?!?!
Person 3- Mineral oil and wax are the best!
Person 4- This person usually provides a bunch of extra information that you didn’t ask for.

Ok so I am generalizing here for fun, but you get the picture. I have noticed as well that many of the people posing these questions may be doing so because of my advice from Episode 7- A Cut Above. To sum up, I said that my favorite finish for end grain butcher blocks is salad bowl finish (aka varnish). But remember my caveat. I said we are NOT trying to build a film. And that’s exactly what the folks in the forums are trying to say. If you build a film, the film will then be cut by a knife. The cut will allow moisture to seep under the finish and become a wonderful home for all kinds of bacteria. I can’t disagree there. But with my method, you never actually build an appreciable film.

I recommend diluting the finish sufficiently so that it immediately gets absorbed into the wood’s wide open pores. Think of it like a vertical bunch of straws that you are filling up with finish. Within a minute or two, you will notice that finish is actually seeping out of the bottom of the board. This is exactly what we want. At this point, I usually set board on its side and allow it to dry overnight. I do this 3-4 times with a light sanding in between each session. By the final coat, you should start noticing that the finish doesn’t really absorb any more. You are now starting to develop a film. One last wipe with a clean cloth and call it DONE.

So how does a board like this fare in the kitchen? There are two main concerns here: safety and maintenance. A butcher block treated this way will resist water all day long. In fact, on my boards, water tends to evaporate faster than it absorbs. Mineral oil boards will actually take on moisture much more readily. Adding wax to your mineral oil can certainly help in this area if thats the route you want to go. Now the fact that it is so water resistant is a major plus in terms of sanitation. Remember that the bacteria like the moisture. So the less moisture in the board, the better.

So how about knife marks? Well like with any board, knife marks will happen. If they don’t, you must not be using your board properly. So what happens to my boards? They get knicked up. They get dulled a little more in the middle where the most action occurs. But after about 18 straight months of usage, my cutting board looks pretty darn good. Check out the pics below. Now if there were a thick film on that board and that film were to crack, the moisture would certainly seep in and create problems. In fact after 18 months of that type of abuse you would probably expect the finish to start flaking off or exhibit more physical damage than what you see. But when a knife produces a deep cut on my board, it just cuts into varnish-filled pores. There is nothing to flake off.

Now let’s talk about maintenance. I haven’t done anything to that board other than a light soap and water scrub after each use, and an occasional white vinegar rub down. And I suspect that in another month or so, I will take the board back in the shop, give the top a nice thorough sanding, reapply a light coat or two of diluted varnish (monitoring how much it takes up), and the board will look brand new. What kind of maintenance does a mineral oil board require? Monthly, and possibly more frequently if used heavily. Maybe I’m just lazy but one of those maintenance schedules sounds a whole lot more fun than the other.

I am by no means trying to discourage people from using mineral oil. After all, its the classic cutting board finish. Use whatever floats your boat. Personally, I have had great success with my method and will continue to use it. The feedback from other folks who have tried it has been great as well. I think its safer, easier, and looks better. Of course my results are not backed by scientific tests. If I still worked in a lab I might be able to test it properly. But I can’t, so all I can do is speculate and bring a little common sense to the table. Finishing is, and probably always will be, one of the most over-complicated and misunderstood areas of woodworking. I only wish there were more scientific resources out there so that issues like this can be resolved effectively without speculation. Until then, do your research and never count on my advice or anyone else’s as cold hard fact. Gather as much information as possible from your trusted resources and then add the final ingredient: YOUR experience, opinions, and common sense.

Viva La Varnished Board!

Category: Finishing

Comments

  1. Mac December 2, 2007

    I am glad my desk is not the only out their that is covered in junk.

    On a more serious note, great clarification Mark. I was sitting on the fence of what type of finish to use and was really confused on what was out their.

  2. Jim December 2, 2007

    Above you recommend diluting the finish “sufficiently”, could give an example of your “sufficiently” diluting finish (50% water or more)? Thanks for your help!

    • Knute April 24, 2009

      I recently had my first experience with making cutting boards. After watching the guy on TV an how he made everything look so simple, I decided to make them for ALL family members for Christmas. I ended up making 25 of them. I used about 30 species of wood, including;ash maple, red oak, white oak, cedar, walnut, yellowheart, bubinga, purpleheart, zebrawood and a host of others I didn’t recognize. After multiple experiments with finishes, frustration set in. Mineral oil just didn’t impress me. Diluted varnish didn’t trip my trigger either. Then I tried something really crazy. I did several sandings starting with 100 grit, then 150, 220, 320, 800 and finally 1500. Before there was even a finish on them, the different woods took on a whole new attractive shine. I loved it. After that, allI did was put on three coats of the diluted varnish and waxed all the surfaces. They looked so terrific that everyone that got them didn’t want to use them for cutting boards (no health issues here). They were going to hang them on the wall or use them for a hotplate or centerpiece. One friend saw them and commissioned me to make one for her…@ $200.00. Another friend wants me to make a series of matching boards to hang on a two story wall, and yet another wants a table top made. Bottom line here is that the cutting board has been expanded into art.
      Thanks for the great reads…keep it up. Knute in Missouri

    • Lynda LaLonde (?) January 3, 2012

      Please tell me how to dilute the varnish. I am going to use maple flooring, applied to 1/2″ plywood. I will need to put a finish and will use mineral oil if I have to but am liking your thought process with the varnish finish. Thank you.

      •  

        I would dilute the varnish by about 75% if it is full-strength.

        • Kari March 25, 2012

          Do you use water to dilute the salad bowl finish? My butcher block is a counter top so I can’t turn it over and let it breathe. Will this method still work?

        •  

          Hi Kari. You do not want to dilute with water. Use mineral spirits, naptha, or paint thinner. And you can certainly finish only one side if that is all you have access to. It is nice to finish both sides when possible but you do what you can do.

        • Kari March 25, 2012

          Paint thinner? That’s a little scary for a food prep surface but after reading all your stuff I am going to trust you! :) Hope I don’t die! Just kidding.

        •  

          haha well if we’re talking about a “salad bowl finish” such as the one sold my General Finishes, you should read the MSDS. There’s already plenty of mineral spirits in that can. You’re just adding a little more. As with any of this stuff, do your research and make the decision that best suits you and your family. My advice is just one person’s opinion. Insert disclaimer here. :)

  3. Vic December 2, 2007

    Hey Marc, Thanks for mentioning me (Person 4). I thought all the superfluous information I like to give was going unnoticed. I was teasing Sylvia the other day. She’s knitting a really cool scarf from Alpaca. I told her ” While I don’t know how to knit, I can give you some excellent advice for that”. (Inside joke) Anyway, thanks for the information. It make good sense.

  4.  

    You got it Jim. I usually aim for the ballpark of 50-60%.

    I would love to hear your knowledge on Alpacas Vic. :)

  5. Lee December 2, 2007

    As a retired chef the cutting board thing is of some interest.
    1 First it was replace all the wood in the kitchens (comm.) with stainless
    2 Stainless proved not practical because it dulled knives after one cut
    3 Then it was plastic cutting boards should be used hmmm
    4 And finally it was proven wood was the safest because plastic (as well as stainless) leaves cuts where the disenfectant could not reach but the wood absorbed it killing the bacteria. This why it should not be sealed.
    5 The point is a light coat of mineral oil and wiping with diluted household bleach is the best (NO bleach is not a toxin) mix about 1 part bleach to 20 parts water.

  6.  

    This is the exact confusion I was talking about. You can find an equal number of studies done that “prove” plastic is the more sanitary kitchen item. It all becomes very confusing for the average person. I personally believe that whether you use wood, plastic, mineral oil, or varnish, a good cleaning and sanitation regimen should prevent food-borne illness. There is bacteria everywhere (especially in the kitchen). Getting rid of all of it is not realistic because it will never happen. But keeping it below the threshold that will cause food-borne illness is the goal.

    And just to clarify Lee, Bleach most certainly IS toxic. But small amounts in diluted solutions can be a safe and effective disinfectant.

    • CJ Compton September 25, 2010

      marc, what the chef above is talking about is the E.P.A.’s side of plastic verses wood. A while back the epa came out and said glass is the best but because of what it does to your knives it is impractical. They then said use plastic over wood. But recently (within the past year) they have changed there stance because of the reasoning he gave. They still say glass is the safest option but like me most people dont want to sharpen dayly

  7. Kip December 2, 2007

    Bleach is not something I would want on anything I eat from. Unless It can be completly rinsed away. Even deluted it would build up with each application. Marc’s point that the wood absorbes the varnish so would it absorb chlorine bleach. My Question is , if the varnish is absorbed into the wood, how toxic is varnish?

    • Brian May 20, 2014

      Even deluted it would build up with each application.

      I know I’m wandering into a very old thread, but this is totally, completely, 100% false. Bleach evaporates. It does not leave a residue nor would it build up over time.

  8. Steve December 2, 2007

    Marc is 100% correct — bleach IS toxic and small amounts in diluted solutions are safe. Many municipal water treatment plants use chlorine (bleach) to disinfect our drinking water. It is toxic to tropical fish in your aquarium but will not harm us humans. Using a bleach solution as a disinfectant on cutting boards is perfectly safe.

  9. Mike in St. Paul (http://) December 2, 2007

    Marc –

    I just skimmed your post. So you are saying that mineral and wax are best, right?

    LOL! I couldn’t resist… Thanks for (yet another) great post. You always give us new methods to think about, but in the end you say the same message: your shop, your product, your choice.

    Well done.

    But mineral oil is best, right? :-P

  10. Josh December 2, 2007

    there are studies that show increased rate of bladder and rectal and breast cancer for those who consume and bathe in chlorinated water over extended periods of time.

    • Mark who likes science, and wood August 18, 2012

      ‘studies’? Sounds pretty vague. And pretty unbelievable too. What kind of control could such a study use? Sounds more like you just have a strong belief that natural is better…but remember that before we started treating water we ‘naturally’ had a much shorter lifespan. Statements like yours are how superstitions get started; do we really need more superstitions?

  11.  

    Well folks, just one more reason not to eat Clorox Brand Ice Pops!

  12. BrianM December 4, 2007

    I followed Marc’s advice and used diluted salad bowl finish. IMHO, if you keep the cutting board clean its just as safe as any other product in the kitchen (Copper, aluminum, teflon, glazed pots.. etc).

    besides… According to the World Health Organization I’m going to die of cancer because i worked graveyard shifts to put myself though college. I think salad bowl finish is the least of my worries.

  13. Brad Nailor (http://) December 5, 2007

    Just about anything in large enough quantities is toxic. As for not wanting to eat anything that has touched something cleaned with bleach, then you better stop eating in restaurants, most use a dilute bleach solution to sanitize everthing in their kitchens!

    I personally prefer a diluted mineral oil for all my cutting boards, but I have used salad bowl finish, though not with Marcs diluted built up technique, on boards that were going to be decorative and not cut on. But Marcs sumation is correct..It’s your project in your shop, do with it what YOU think is correct!

    • CJ Compton September 25, 2010

      what do u dilute mineral oil with?

  14. JohnC December 7, 2007

    At my daughter’s preschool, they use a *very* diluted bleach/water spray to mist over the toys and stuff… Compared to the germ warfare of 4 year olds’ drippy noses and sneezes, the bleach seems not so bad….

    -John

  15. Chris D December 8, 2007

    Othan than purple heart what are some other tight grain non-oily woods that can be used for a quality end grain cutting board?

  16.  

    Hey Chris. There are a lot of opinions out there as to what makes an appropriate cutting board. And your options open up even more if you plan on using it for dry goods like bread.
    Here are some woods that I have seen in cutting boards: mahogany, walnut, yellowheart, birch, alder, maple, purpleheart, white oak, and bubinga. That’s all I have off the top of my head.

    As long as the wood isn’t real oily and doesn’t have wide open pores (woods like red oak and ash), you should be fine. So of course, be careful, do your research, and have fun!

  17. Steve December 9, 2007

    Just a word about using bleach as a sanitizer:

    This quote was taken from an FDA brochure: “For extra protection, you can clean the board (cutting board) with a kitchen sanitizer, such as a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach to one quart water.”
    See for yourself: Go to http://www.fda.gov, seach for “foodsfe.pdf”. Look about 1/2 way down the brochure.

    This solution is about 1 part bleach to 200 parts water. Much more diluted that the 1:20 ratio recommended above.

    BTW Marc, love the site. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  18. Spanky (http://) December 12, 2007

    What type of varnish is recommended or does it matter?

    Thanks

  19.  

    Technically, it doesn’t matter. What do I use? General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish.

  20. Johan December 16, 2007

    Hey Marc,
    Nice job on the site. Keep up the good work here. Thanks for revisiting this topic.

    Shellac is food safe, right? Would it also (mixed w/ normal alcohol, not denatured alcohol) make a similar or better quality finish as the salad bowl varnish?

  21. Johan December 18, 2007

    Never mind, I just listened to your original podcast, and you mention why shellac won’t be a good alternative.

    Thanks.

  22. Kent Follmer January 1, 2008

    Hi Folks and Happy New Year!

    I have spent a lot of time making and finishing end grain cutting boards during the past two months. I think I have read everything on the internet on the subject including the never ending debate between plastic v. wood boards. Here are my 2 cents:

    PLASTIC VS WOOD

    On the wood v plastic debate, the answer in my view is this:
    Both work for cutting boards, Wood has been around for centuries and plastic for about two decates. Plastic boards appeared to receive more general but uninformed acceptance by the public including state legislatures a few years back, which caused this controversy in the first place, but wood , in particular one made of end grain of a closed grain species, is far superior in every category including appearance. In the last ten years, more has been published by unbiased scientists from major universities that establishes that plastic CAN me less safe than wood, and the real issues is how the board is usedd, cleaned and maintained, not so much whether it is is plastic or wood; so it boils down to this: which do you like better? WOOD.

    After refinishing 4 of our old boards, edge and face grain boards (sanding and sealing with a variety of finishes), and making 5 end grain boards, I finally looked at my ladies’ old white plastic board in the kitchen; this was a favorite of hers because her mom said she should use this one for meat. Guess what: This plastic board was FURRY! u AM NOT KIDDING, IT HAD SMALL VERY FINE LITTLE PLASTIC FURRY FIBERS IN THE MIDDLE.

    Sure, you can throw it in the dishwasher but the damn thing was furry from knife marks, – yes there were knife marks all over it but the general surface where the cutting took place in the center of the board was furry to the touch, which I believe will harbor bacteria like the Taliban in the mountains; this plastic board was the worst, ugliest and most unsafe board in the kitchen.

    After showing this to my lady, she allowed me to throw it over the shoulder into a well placed trash can, just as Marc did in his podcast, episode 7A.

    I suppose I could have sanded this furry plastic thing, but it was not worth the sandpaper it would have wasted. We are not interested in plastic working nor is Marc a plastic whisperer. Plastic companies have made a ton of money in the last 50 years but trees grew on this land before man kind and I think that scores a point or two. Lets get real here, plastic sucks. for cutting boards. I am not into plastic boards and I am completely convinced that if you keep your wooden boards clean, you can cut chicken or anything else you want and need not worry about any health issues. Maintenance on them would require light sanding every few years at the most. Does it make sense to have one board for chicken only? not to me. just keep it clean. One for vegies and one for meat? sure, why not. I like making boards.

    THE FINISH

    Mineral oil is good. It is cheap, does not last long, easy to apply. My vote here is use this on your standard run of the mill single species boards. You don’t get the luster but works well.

    Walnut oil. I like this more than mineral oil. It gets harder over time with light and air. It last longer than mineral oil. It might darken lighter woods. It is not unhealthy. Your plants don’t like walnut wood shavings and dont use the walnut wood chips as an ingrediant to your meat loaf, and you will be just fine; however, y ou don’t get the luster or shine as you do with a varnish.

    Salad Bowl finish is a real good option. Marc’s recipe of dilluting with thinner is an absolute MUST to avoid streaky oily and smearing finishes but with a 50% thinning, and several coats, you get a nice shine and this shows off the more exotic woods and your efforts better. It is a better seal than the options.

    Another good option is this: do nothing. once a year sand it.

    Sorry for rambling and for all those that read this, the most important thing is to enjoy this hobby of working with wood.

    Kent

  23. Dave) January 6, 2008

    For purists (and to defend Chef Lee) toxins are poisonous substances produced by the mteabolic processes of living organisms. Snake venom is a toxin. Chlorine is toxic, but it is not a toxin.

  24. Steven March 3, 2008

    ARRGGHHHHH!!!

    Marc – “At this point, I usually set board on its side and allow it to dry overnight.”

    ** on its side**

    I did not see or hear this one detail in your original video. I left the board flat to dry!! I kept expecting the bleed through to stop – which never did using diluted finish. I had some success with using undiluted finish, so eventually I called it done.

    I gave this board to my wife for Christmas. She literally refused to cut on it for two weeks because it was “too pretty”. I finally convinced her to start using it, but it was very painful for her. :)

    This was my first project where I using using serious hardwoods and really trying to maintain tight tolerances. The cut, flip, cut steps magnify every flaw in woodworking process. I learned a LOT about working with hardwoods (plenty to go!) and more importantly details about the setup and use of my wood working equipment (table saw driving me nuts and my first use of power planer). This was a VERY valuable experience for me. Thank you, Marc!!!

  25. Ben June 8, 2008

    So if you turn it on its side overnight, how do you keep it from gluing itself to the surface it is resting on and messing up the edge of your board?

  26.  

    in most cases, I don’t coat the side that’s going to face down. I will catch it on the next coat. After 1-2 coats, you will be finishing with the board flat again so you can do all 4 sides evenly at that time.

    Hope that helps.

  27. Mike October 17, 2008

    Hi Marc,

    I’ve made three of your end-grain cutting boards now…they’re a big hit with all who see them. Everyone thinks I labored away days gluing up individual little blocks of wood…I don’t let one how easy it actually comes together!

    Sorry to dredge up an old topic, but I seem to be having a problem with the finish that no one has mentioned….

    I went with your recommended Salad Bowl Finish thinned with Mineral Spirits. But after only a few light washings, it appears that the finish is completely gone! The surface is rough like the grain is raised. What did I do wrong? Should I have rubbed more in on the initial coat? I rubbed for about 3-4 minutes…it seems like it would have soaked up more. I never experienced the finish coming out the other side.

  28.  

    Glad the boards are working out for you!

    Now on to your dilemma. Keep in mind that the light coating of finish on top is actually meant to wear off. We don’t really want a heavy film on top of the board. Films lead to cracked finish and cracked finish leads to bacteria. Since the idea is to essentially fill the grain from the inside, the board should still be protected. Now if you notice that water absorbs into the wood, it might be a good idea to recoat the board again because it is apparently not totally sealed. But if it still repels water, then you are still in good shape.

    Now your description of the finishing process raises some questions. In most cases, the finish will go through to the other side. Did you keep applying the finish or did you just keep rubbing a small amount? I usually flood the surface and keep adding finish until it appears on the other side. But not all woods will allow the finish to pass through so readily. What woods did you use?

    Either way, you need to check to see how well the board is repelling water. Put a good sized drop on there and watch it over the course of a few minutes. If the drops absorbs within a minute or so, the board needs more work.

    Now here’s a little extra info for you. After about 5-6 months of using a new board, I like to take it back to the shop and resurface it. The initial use of the board causes some of the joints to swell and the surface feels a little rough (as you described). So by sanding the surface with 220 and reapplying a fresh coat of varnish, you completely renew the surface. And since the board is fully seasoned, it will stay smoother and the joints will be much less obvious at that point. And they should stay that way too.

    Feel free to email me if you want to get deeper into these details.

  29. Geof October 23, 2008

    Marc,

    I just discovered your site and am very impressed. I found you because I was looking for info on end grain cutting boards…………..presto, your podcast is perfect. I have purchased the hard maple and purple heart from my local wood purveyor and am ready to begin.

    Geof

  30. John October 27, 2008

    I am glad to hear I am not the only one with the board getting “fuzzy fast” issue (Mike on October 17th, 2008 2:55 pm ).

    I am making a lot of these boards and have been testing them in my kitchen. The mineral oil ones do not repel water well enough for someone who washes the board and sets it aside – instant warpage – the warpage can be fixed but if the board is a gift, you just became a sucky woodworker in their eyes. Since most folks who use the board will not be as educated about its properties and care as those of us who make them, we need to keep this in mind when we finish the board.

    The Salad Bowl finish looks great but the surface of the board gets rough and ugly very quickly after some use. The board still repels moisture well and does not warp so I will probably put a 6 month refinish coupon in the gift to get past this issue and let folks know what to expect with a new board.

    I have not tried the wax yet but I expect that it will not seal the board as well as the salad bowl finish and will seal better than the oil only system. I suspect that I will end up finishing the boards with the salad bowl finish and then maintain mine with oil/wax and recommend the gift recipients use oil only as that is easier.

    All my boards will come with directions for their use and maintenance as they require a bit more brains than plastic. If you are not smart enough to own it after all this work and you still have problems, I will take you off my cool gift list and start sending you my recycled â

  31. Bob November 29, 2008

    When you said to dilute. What do you dilute with?
    Earlier someone asked and he said 50-60% water. Is that OK or should it be diluted with mineral spirits?

  32.  

    mineral spirits or naptha will do just fine.

    • Gabriel September 7, 2012

      I’m looking to finish wooden toys and I’ve been following the “food safe” (i.e. indirect food contact) finishes as a guide. Currently I’m using mineral oil mixed with with beeswax. One of the things I think turns people off finishes is the thinner that’s used. Can you describe what happens to the mineral spirits/naptha once it’s mixed with the finish and put on the wood? I’m assuming that the thinner evaporates and doesn’t remain in the wood but it would be nice to have confirmation on the process.

      •  

        As I understand it, that’s exactly what happens. All that should be left behind is the resin. But please don’t take my word on this as an authority. There are different viewpoints and you will need to arrive at your own decision. I personally dont see this as an issue. But when making things for people outside my family, I err on the side of caution.

  33. Lucky1406 November 29, 2008

    Hey there, I had a quick question. I’ve made a number of your cutting boards, and I’ve been trying few finishes, and I wanted your advice about a problem that I seem to have. I’ve been finishing the bottom of the boards with the varnish/mineral spirits to keep it protected from water on the counter tops (I heard that the boards can mold if left in water on a counter top) But I wanted to finish the top in a Butcher Clock oil. I liked the look of this, with the protection of the Varnish for the bottom. The strange thing I noticed is that after I put on the varnish, I decided to go ahead a put a layer of Butcher block oil on top of it to see what it looked like. And I started to notice that where the grain of the wood was, It seemed to raise up with a slightly gummy substance. maybe the Butcher block oil was pulling some of the varnish up? I’m Not sure, I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this. I just sanded it down a little, and tried it again. But it did the same thing again. I’m not too worried about it because it’s the bottom of the board, but still. I’ll be sure to try these things out before I do anything to the top of one of my boards.

  34. Bob December 2, 2008

    If this is your favorite finish for end grain cutting boards, would it also be for edge grain?

  35.  

    Well, for face grain and edge grain cutting boards, I am usually a little more conservative in my approach. With most woods, you start building a film almost immediately. And remember, we don’t want a film on the surface. So I guess you could use this method, but you’ll have to toe the line between film/no film. But I would probably not even bother. I would just treat it with mineral oil/wax and go with tradition.

  36. TheGubain March 1, 2009

    Mark, Love your stuff and the craic from the quacks is ok too. I grew up in a small town in the ould country. We had an outhouse,yeah!, and had to use old papers. Them were the days me old friend. Whow!! was about to break into a bars of he ould song there!! Now where was I,ok yes them old days. We played in muck and dirt, we ate berries off the bush, we ate all our own produce, drank milk from the cows, cured our own meat, washed outside in a basin full of cold water. My father shave out there too. Anyway enough of all the prettyy clean stuff. Good is good enough for me. I have wathched thinks change not all for the best. We are far too clean now. Just watch folks. Wipe off the door handle. Need I go on. No,No, lets just go back a little and live life the way we were ment to and not as dictated by money grabbing CO’s.

  37. john April 30, 2009

    Im spraying some chairs 13, I,ve been using valspar pre cat @ a 40 sheen. Just found out we need a french polish look.don’t really want to rub them out, or have the time.I know it’s best not to inter mix name brands,but thier is’nt enough time to order a gloss pre cat from this vender.Do you think I could get by with a Sherwin Williams pre cat gloss product. Thanks for your help and first time at this web site.I’ve been using mineral oil on my cutting boards and don’t care for all the recoating involed.Can I sand and coat with the cut- salad boul finish? Seems the grain would be filled with mineral oil,just a thought! thanks again John South Carolina

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer April 30, 2009

      Hey John. That’s a hard one for me to answer. When you get into the pre-cat stuff, there is so much going on chemically that it really can be risky to mix brands like that. I’m not saying it wouldn’t work. Also if you already spraying the 40 sheen, topping it with gloss will give you a bit of a muddy weird look. It won’t exactly be like a French polish because you won’t be able to see clear down to the wood grain, even though the finish is polished.

      As for the cutting board, I usually recommend people let the mineral oil board go for a few months without a reapplication of oil. After numerous wash and dry cylces, you can usually give it a light sanding and start the varnishing process. If you sand the board and your sandpaper gets all gummed up, just wait longer.

  38. j July 17, 2009

    dont exotics contain toxins from pesticides used in other countries? Isnt purpleheart open grained?

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer July 18, 2009

      As far as pesticides, I doubt that is much concern. But with exotics, toxicity is definitely a concern. So with the exception of purpleheart, I don’t really use exotics in my cutting boards (although many people do). There just isn’t enough info out there to let us know how “food safe” these woods are.

      And in general I don’t consider purpleheart to be open grained.

  39. JohnG July 27, 2009

    I now have THE way to finish this awsome board. I cook a lot and use the board at least twice per day and maybe more.

    Start with the 50/50 mix that Marc describes. Once that is dry, sand the board down with 220 grit on your dual action sander.

    I then get out the old hotplate and make a mix of mineral oil and beeswax. Mix it so that when it is room temp, it is soft enough so you can put your finger through it (about the consistency of chapstick).

    I then heat up the mix and hot wax the board. I pour on the hot liquid and spread it around until it solidifies. After it cools, I scrape the excess back into the pan and buff it with a soft rag.

    This gives a finish smoother than a baby butt that lasts a month or so of daily use. It can be hit with mineral oil for another month or so and then repeat. A little effort but once you try it, you will not go back…

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer July 27, 2009

      Sounds like the best of both worlds John! Thanks man.

  40. Ron.of.the.north October 13, 2009

    This is a very interesting discussion. I see nobody mentioned using tung oil for finishing the cutting board. Marc, how would this compare to mineral oil or walnut oil?
    Thanks,
    Ron

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer October 13, 2009

      You know, I don’t see what you couldn’t use pure tung oil. I think it would be far better to use than mineral oil since it will actually cure. It won’t offer as much protection as the varnishing method but is certainly a good alternative for those those who don’t want to use varnish, but don’t want the mess of applying an oil that never cures. I would have to try a few sample boards to see how well tung oil would hold up, but in theory, it seems like a great alternative.

      • WNY woodlady August 25, 2010

        We use Tung oil and mineral spirits and they turn out wonderful. Food safe, long lasting and gorgeous. This is the first time I have ever seen it mentioned in a thread and its all we use on our wood products.

        • Ray Oliver August 7, 2011

          I was under the distinct impression that Tung Oil is NOT food safe.

    • Oliver Warlow January 13, 2012

      Hi Ron,
      Just a small note about Tung Oil, It is a nut oil.
      Though it is food safe anyone with a nut allergy (myself included) will have a reaction to the oil or anything prepared on that surface. In the USA approx 6.9 million citizens have a nut allergy and in the UK about 1 in 100 people will have the allergy. I would not reccomend it simply due to the high likelihood that someone could be harmed by it.
      Oliver

  41. Daan December 14, 2009

    I would like to make the cuttingboard bud i cant find the drwawing and the list off used products. I am living in the netherlands we dont use inch but centimeter. would you help me

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer December 14, 2009

      Hi Daan. You can find the videos and plans here: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.co.....ve-part-1/

      Can’t help you with the metric measurements though. You’ll have to use one of those online calculators to get the conversions.

  42. Dominic December 22, 2009

    Hello,

    Use mineral spirits on my food make me fear.

    What do you think about citrus solvent?

    It’s use in food industry so maybe more â

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer December 22, 2009

      Hey Dominic. Personally I don’t have any concerns about using mineral spirits. Its already in the salad bowl finish, which is considered food safe when cured.

      I have never worked with Citrus solvent but it certainly sounds like a great alternative. If you try it, please let me know how it works.

  43. JMAN April 13, 2010

    In the video you mention using a random orbit sander as one way of flattening the board before going into the second round of cuts. What’s the best grit to use at this particular step?

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer April 13, 2010

      Probably 80 grit would be adequate.

  44. Marc, I have a 24X24 maple butcher block that is 13in thick. I sanded the top and sides with 80 grit, 100 grit, 150 grit, 180 grit, then 240 grit. I used the 50/50 salad bowl finish with mineral spirits and applied 3 coats 5-10 minutes apart from each other then let it dry overnight. This morning I added another coat and plan on doing it again tonight as well. My question is how many applications do I need to apply for it to be completely sealed? In your video, you apllied 2 coats, lightly sanded, and applied the 3rd coat. I’m assuming with a thicker block, I will need more than 3 coats. My goal is to have the finished block to be smooth as glass.

    Also, once I apply the second to last coat and let it dry, followed up with a light sanding of 400 grit sandpaper, would it be a good idea to melt some bees wax into the 50/50 solution and apply it as my final coat? Thanks

    •  
      thewoodwhisperer April 29, 2010

      Well, that’s a tough question to answer. At 13″ thick, this might not be the best solution for the board. By putting varnish in the wood, you have already partially sealed it, so liquids will absorb much slower than if the wood was raw. But if you use this method to completely seal it up in the way that I do for my skinny boards, you might be there for a while. I just don’t know if that’s the best course of action. You might want to add a few more coats, sand the whole surface, then switch over to a mineral oil/wax mixture for regular maintenance.

      Keep in mind that you can certainly get the surface glass smooth, but you do not want a film. A dull cutting board is a safe cutting board. :)

      And if you do add beeswax, I would do it with mineral oil and not varnish. I would be concerned about the flammability of the varnish around heat.

  45. Cliff Bramlett August 9, 2010

    I know the fervor seems to have died down (a bit), but I thought I’d post this resource:
    Link to the MSDS sheet detailing safety levels of the varnish Marc mentioned:
    http://www.generalfinishes.com.....2-4-09.pdf

    Short version, it contains less than 0.1% of any carcinogen, is stable (doesn’t break down into other chemicals), and has no hazardous polymerization.

    For anyone familiar with MSDS reports, most of the scary stuff in that report is common sense – use good ventilation, don’t set it on fire, don’t drink the stuff, and wash up after you’re done. It IS a varnish, but follow Marc’s directions and it appears to be no worse than Mineral Oil which is, btw, a laxative.

    Mineral Oil MSDS: http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/M7700.htm
    Beeswax MSDS: http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Beeswax-9927322
    Tung Oil MSDS: http://www.rockler.com/tech/RTD20000304AA.pdf

    In fact, the salad bowl finish MSDS says that if you ingest it you should rinse your mouth if conscious and seek medical attention if necessary. The MSDS for mineral oil says “If swallowed, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Give large quantities of water. [...] Get medical attention immediately. Aspiration hazard.” Compare those two warnings and then consider how long mineral oil has been a standard for butcher blocks. I’m fine with the salad bowl finish.

  46. Ron Oleston October 3, 2010

    I would like a pattern that is on the front of your plans not the one in the video. Could you tell me what cuts will achieve that look?

    •  

      The cuts are all the same as are the individual strips. The only thing that differs is the placement of the thinnest strip during the initial glueup. One version is with the thin strips on the outside and one is with them on the inside.

  47. Ron Oleston October 4, 2010

    I have been studing the picture and need some additional help. Please advise me on the correct order for each pattern. In what order do the various width cuts go in. I really want to come up with various patterns. I really like your video. We have decided to make 8 for Xmas presents.

    •  

      Let me explain a little further Ron. In the video, I made two versions. I actually only intended to show one. But I got them mixed up. So the first half of the video shows one pattern and then it switches at some point. Its only a minor detail but the written plan gives you the pattern you see in all the pictures. So follow the plan and you’ll get whats in the picture. If you change the order of the initial glueup, you can get all kinds of unique patterns. The original calls for the order to start with the widest boards on the outside, and the thinnest boards toward the inside, alternating between the two species. If we think of the boards as 4, 3, 2 and 1 (larger number being the wider boards), the order in the plan would be 4, 3, 2, 1, right? Or since we have two species, the more accurate way to say it is 4 (maple), 1 (PH), 3 (maple), 2 (PH), 2 (maple), 3 (PH), 1 (maple), 4 (PH). If you want to do the variation I accidentally showed in the video, try this order:
      4 (maple), 3 (PH), 2 (maple), 1 (PH), 1 (maple), 2 (PH), 3 (maple), 4 (PH). That should do the trick. But double check yourself to make sure.

  48. Ron Oleston October 22, 2010

    The patterns look great.

    I used purpleheart and maple. After my second glue up, I am rounding the edge with a table router and a 1/4 inch round. I am discovering that every section of purpleheart is splintering on every side? It is not a blowout at the end but every time I go over the purpleheart. The maple is not so I am confused. The piece is going from the right to the left.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    •  

      Hey Ron. The purpleheart has different working properties than the walnut, and doesn’t take as well to routing in some cases. So I would try taking smaller bites per pass and work your way up to the full 1/4″ roundover.

  49. Jason October 23, 2010

    just a quick note- for all those having trouble getting the diluted finish to completely soak through to the other side, make sure you don’t sand past 180 grit before applying the finish. After making @30 boards, I find that 120 grit works best- leaves a smooth enough finish and doesn’t close up the pores, allowing the varnish to completely soak through. Between coats, I’ll sand with 180, 220, and 300 to give it a nice luster.

  50. Alex November 28, 2010

    Hey Marc,

    I’m going to be making a board in the coming weeks and I’m from Canada where the selection is not always the greatest for some things so I found this butcher block finish from Watco (http://www.homedepot.ca/webapp.....PartNumber) but I don’t know if it’s a “food safe varnish” or some kind of oil. I would personally use a regular varnish but since this is a gift, I don’t really want to do this but I don’t want to use mineral oil if I can avoid it. Do you know anything about this product from watco and do you have any other suggestions?

    Thanks

    Alex

    P.S. Your podcasts are addictive!

    •  

      Hey Alex. From what I am reading, it looks like its a varnish, similar to General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish. So i think this is a good option if you need a “food safe” varnish. Thanks for watching!

  51. Ron November 30, 2010

    I wonder if you could advise me with anything that can be done to eliminate the sap from coming thru. Out of 11 boards doing the same process only 2 had sap spots. Help;

    •  

      Hey Ron. Honestly, a board that’s excreting sap might not be the best choice for a cutting board. Sometimes you can seal sap in using finish, but that’s not a great idea for a cutting board. We don’t want to apply a thick film on the surface. So if those were my boards, I would probably cut them down to remove the area with the sap and pretend I just made a new design. :)

  52. Ron November 30, 2010

    The trouble is that I did not notice any sap before or after cutting first and second time. But after glueing up second time little black spots appeared on the Maple only on certain boards. Is that sap coming out or something else? Anything I can do to prevent.

    By the way everyone loves the boards THANKS

    •  

      You’re very welcome Ron. While I don’t think the black spots are sap, I am still concerned about them. Black spots could be indicative of a few things. Could be mold or it could be cause from small bits of metal. Either way, both possibilities make me nervous thinking of them being used as a food prep surface. Perhaps I’m being a little too cautious but better safe than sorry.
      So maybe try sanding the board a little more to see if the spots go away. If they should reappear, before or after finishing, you might consider scrapping them (as much as it pains me to say it).

  53. Ken F November 30, 2010

    Hi Marc,

    I did a boo boo, I made a 20x15x3 end grain cutting board
    And not remembering to use at least Tiebond-II (water proof), I used Tiebond standard.

    But I think this varnish technique to seal from water and moister is the perfect solution.

    Thanks

  54. Jacob December 5, 2010

    Hey Marc,

    First off I want to thank you for all of the information in this site! I’m a definite future guild member!

    Now on to my question. I’m all set to finish a few boards that I made for Christmas presents and I was going to use General Finish’s Salad Bowl finish and follow the process you use in your videos. I noticed on the can of Salad Bowl Finish it specifically says not to thin. Is that a general warning like “do not drink” or is there something that I missing?

    Thanks!

  55. Ross December 11, 2010

    Marc,

    Thanks for the tips on finish. I am finishing 13 boards with the salad bowl finish of varying thickness (1-2″). I am having trouble determining when the wood is saturated. The first coat soaked right in like you said and I flooded it until it came through. I have just applied a second coat and it already appears to be standing on the surface. Do I continue to apply a 3rd coat? I don’t want to build a film like you talk about. Also, do you ever sand after the final coat with fine steel wool or is that a mistake? Thanks for your help.

    •  

      Hey Ross. If the second coat lays on the surface, simply wipe off the excess and let it dry. Flip the board over and do the other side and you are good to go.

      And feel free to buff the board after the final coat. Bottom line is, the board shouldn’t be shiny like a piece of furniture. So abrading the surface after the fact is ok.

  56. Alex December 21, 2010

    Marc,

    The video is not working here. Do you have any other mirror links or on itunes or anywhere else where this video can be found?

    Thanks

  57. Tony December 29, 2010

    After seeing your tutorial I decided to make 3 boards for family as Christmas gifts. All the boards were ultimately sanded with 220 and finished with 2 coats of WATCO butcherblock oil and finish on all surfaces. I used one of the boards, gave it a light wash, rinsed it and dried it. After this the top of the board looks dull and the the top is now rough to the touch.

    I was curious if anyone can suggest how to refinish this properly, and in a manner that wont lead to this problem reoccurring. Also, the other two boards i gave out have not yet been used. They were treated the same way with the exception that i personalized the back of those 2 with a router. So any help on how to repair the first board and how to prevent the other two from the same fate. Others have mentioned mineral oil but I am reluctant to use that since I already used this WATCO finish. Any assistance would be appreciated thanks

    •  

      Hey Tony. First things first. Cutting boards are surfaces what will never stay smooth. If they do, that means you aren’t using it. By nature, the boards will absorb some liquid while also being punished by knives and other cutting devices. To expect this surface to say smooth is unfortunately not realistic. Generally speaking, I find that my boards all react this way after they are made. The grain raises and you can feel all the glue lines. What I found to be the best course of action is to continue using them for a few months. Let them get some wear and tear. After a few months, take the board back in the shop, give it a light sanding to smooth things out and reapply your finish. Now this time, you should find the board doesn’t get quite as rough after it is used again and the joint lines won’t be as noticeable. But they will still be there. Its the nature of the beast and its something that happens to all cutting boards.

  58. David February 23, 2011

    Hey Marc,

    I went to the Sherwin-Williams to get the varnish for the cutting board- (evidently the big stores don’t carry varnish). The counter guy pointed me to a high gloss vs satin (no semi available). He stated the high gloss is more “natural” for varnish; that for satin and semi they actually add flatteners. The choice may be trivial, but I respect your opinions so- what would you have chosen?

    Also I’m a little concerned for sending this board as a gift long distance. I feel I won’t have the ability to refinish it or fix it a couple months down the line once the grains settle in. Any thoughts on this matter?

    Thanks!

    •  

      hey David. Since the ultimate goal here is to protect the wood but NOT create a film, the sheen really doesn’t matter. So no reason to buy anything with flatteners in it. I’d just go for gloss.

  59. David February 23, 2011

    Any thoughts on sending it long distance and not being able to refinish it after the grains have settled?

  60. Terry August 2, 2011

    For all those Canadians trying to get the Behlen Salad Bowl Finish there is a hardware store called Richelieu Hardware that sells it. Looking at the locations they have quite a few across Canada and you can order it online as well.
    http://www.richelieu.com/produ.....selectGr=1

  61. Andrew November 1, 2011

    First off thanks very much for you informative videos.

    I am about to start my first in a long series of cutting boards for holiday gifts. I am concerned about the finish…specifically the use of mineral spirits around food.

    I assume there is a good answer, but how can something so toxic be safe to use around food? I assume the toxic part evaporates, but is there any data to support that? Something about using a chemical like that on a cutting board just makes me nervous.

    I am not trying to argue, just trying to learn :) Thanks again. Your videos are spectacular.

    •  

      Hey Andrew. Many dangerous/toxic chemicals can be safe after they evaporate. Any residue left behind is washed away with soap and water. All that’s really left on the surface is resin. And many companies sell varnish for food items that is FDA approved. These all contain mineral spirits or naptha, just like their “non FDA appproved” cousins. But if you aren’t comfortable with it, don’t use it. You can always go the mineral oil route. Just keep in mind that if you dig deeper into that topic, you will find folks who are afraid to use mineral oil as it is actually a petroleum produce. All depends on how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole. :)

      • Andrew November 2, 2011

        Thanks for the quick response. I did look at the spec/safety sheet for the General Finish salad bowl finish, and it does indeed contain mineral spirits on its own. But they do specify that it should not be used for chopping blocks, they recommend mineral oil for that. I assume they give this warning for legal purposes because the varnish is not “officially” approved for this purpose.

        Have you ever tried or heard of using mineral spirit alternatives, like Citrus-based ones? Maybe this isn’t good because it could spoil:
        http://www.realmilkpaint.com/citrus.html

        One last question (ok, a few) – should I go with the mineral oil/wax mixture…

        1. Any reason to go with beeswax over parafin?
        2. Once the mixture goes to room temperature, does it harden? Could I supply each person for whom I make a cutting board a little container of it so they could reapply as necessary?
        3. How often (approximate) should the oil/wax mixture be reapplied? Less often than straight mineral oil?

        Sorry this post is so long! I plan to start my first cutting board tonight….my first real woodworking project alltogether, 100% inspired by your video, thanks!

  62. Andrew December 8, 2011

    After talking to toxic substance specialists at my job (I work for a health department), I decided that the salad bowl finish w/ mineral spirits is just fine and safe. I’m going with that from now on :)

  63. Jørgen December 13, 2011

    Hello
    I live in Norway, and i can’t find mineral oil anywhere (at least not in a sensible quantity).
    I have how ever seen parafin oil, which as I understand is basically the same thing, been used for cutting boards.
    Any thoughts?

  64. chippysteveo January 16, 2012

    Does it matter if I use a spirit based varnish and use white spirit to thin it down. It seems to have worked well

  65. Rebecca March 20, 2012

    I hear that a plain cutting board with no finish is best if I will be cutting raw meat on it. Is it cool to make one side finished and one not, so you can simply use one side for meat and the other for veggies? Also, I hear coconut oil is the safest, healthiest oil, as it is not a petroleum product. Walnut is great but apparently some people have allergies. Have you tried either of these?

    Thanks!

    •  

      You’ll find that there are lots of differing opinions about how to treat cutting boards. Personally, I would not finish only one side of a cutting board since I don’t really see the harm in using a finish. And I haven’t tried walnut oil (for the same reasons) or coconut oil. I find the mineral oil/wax mixture works great when I need to use an oil. But my varnishing method is my preferred finish.

      • Rebecca March 22, 2012

        Thank you! I heard about these alternative ways of finishing the cutting boards from “green” and natural health sites online that are concerned with lessening toxin exposures as much as possible, especially for people with cancer, liver related diseases, or compromised immunities. Apparently, while mineral oil is considered “safe” to digest for most people, it still has some toxins in it due to its petroleum base.

        Unfortunately, our world is so full of different toxins now in our food, water, air, etc. that any opportunities to use totally toxin-free substances are recommended..in order to avoid further damage or vulnerabilities, especially in people with health issues.

        The natural wood (untreated) apparently has anti-bacterial action to it, and the board can still be washed with soap and water, dried standing up, and then sanded periodically. However, it’s not beautiful like yours. I just wondered if you had any experience with this or other methods considered the most “green” from natural health websites. Thank you!!!

        •  

          Personally, I don’t feel that there is really anything wrong with using mineral oil on a cutting board or varnish for that matter. But I certainly can’t fault someone for wanting go the most natural route possible. In that case, you might try a mixture of one of the recommended oils and some beeswax. I don’t have any experience with the oils you mentioned though. And keep in mind it won’t look like my board. Well, to be honest, my board doesn’t look like “my board” anymore either. Once a cutting board is in use, it dulls quickly and starts to look like the work surface it is intended to be. So I don’t really worry too much about that. I’d recommend going the oil/wax route and simply reapply as needed.

  66. Robin Jackson March 31, 2012

    When I do an end grain cutting board and use Behlens and or mineral oil it seems to darken the woods enough that you can’t see the different colors anymore. I used Poplar, Purple heart, bubinga and walnut which looked pretty (if I can use that word). As soon as I applied mineral oil all three of the darker woods took on the same color. before the finish I had a deep orange, Purple and walnut color against the white Poplar. I now have a darkened poplar and all three of the colorful woods have blended in to one color. Is there a finish I can use to retain the original colors? Thanks

  67. Scott June 10, 2012

    Wow you aren’t kidding, what a confusing subject to research. I was originally told to use Tung oil on my cutting board, so i bought some, but then was told it is not safe. Now I came across your website and like your suggestion of mixing salad bowl finish and mineral spirits. I am,however, having a difficult time finding any salad bowl finish; therefore, I was wondering if I could get away with using your method by mixing mineral spirits with the salad bowl finish, but would like to substitute my tung oil for salad bowl finish.

    •  

      Well unfortunately, “tung oil” in this industry is a highly mis-used term. What is in the can depends on what brand you have. If it is pure tung oil, you should be ok to use this on a board and dilute it if you choose. Just keep in mind it needs a lot more dry time than the salad bowl finish. Also keep in mind that many disagree with my salad bowl finish system on end grain boards, but it works for me so I continue to use it.

  68. Mark June 24, 2012

    I have had a request from a local winery to make some cheese boards for their wine shop. They did not want the expense of end grain cutting boards, so they opted for some edge grain boards. I typically sand my cutting boards to 400 grit and then apply several coats of mineral oil.

    Use and care instructions come with every board I make and it says in big bold letters “DO NOT SOAK IN WATER or USE IN DISHWASHER”. However, even with a little water used just to wipe clean, this raises the wood grain. I explain to my customers that all wood when wet will have the grain raised a bit. That’s the nature of wood.

    Is there anything I can do, finishes I can use to slow down or prevent the grain from raising? Would there be a problem with soaking the wood, let dry completely, then resanding before applying the finish?

    I have read several posts related to cutting board finishes. But none of them mention raising of the grain.

    •  

      The finish mentioned in this article will help prevent grain-raising, but it’s up to you if you want to use it on a client’s board.

      You can certainly pre-raise the grain before finishing, which I would recommend. But with a mineral oil finish, the grain is going to become raised again at some point. As you said, it’s just the nature of the beast.

      • Andrew Levine June 25, 2012

        On Marc’s suggestion, I have been using Tried & True Varnish Oil on long-grain boards. It is bit trickier to apply, but it does work very well. It’s 100% natural, and it has both oil and varnish. Word of advice, apply it VERY VERY VERY VERY thin.

        What I do is this…I take a clean cloth. I Put some of the finish into a separate container (a very little bit. With gloves on, I dip my fingers into the finish and wipe it off onto the cloth. I do this a few times, just so the cloth is basically coated. Then I rub the finish on from that cloth. I wipe it on till the entire board is coated…barely. An hour later, I wipe it dry with a clean rag. The next day I lightly sand with 400 grit paper, and repeat. About 4 coats like this works well.

        If you put it on any thicker, it just stays oily and doesnt cure for days. They say this in the directions, but I didn’t believe just HOW thinly it needs to be applied.

  69. Luke June 28, 2012

    What a great site!

    I made a butcher block dinning room table out of hard maple.

    I’ve got it planned and now am looking to figure out the next step as far as sanding and finish.

    Do you have any recommendations as it won’t be a cutting board but would still like to keep it food safe, last a long time, and have a nice finish?

  70. Andrew Levine July 9, 2012

    Any idea if pre-mixing mineral spirits into salad bowl finish will cause it to cure prematurely? I have a half can left, and a new can on the way. I was thinking just filling the half can to the top with MS so I don’t have to mix it up every time I use it.

    Any reason to NOT do that? Thanks!

  71. Andrew Levine July 9, 2012

    Bloxygen – that is an awesome name! I will look into it, thanks Marc..

  72. Vincent September 14, 2012

    Hi Marc please let me know I’m live in Canada and love your videos but I didn’t found mineral oil in any store , somebody toll me abut in animal shops but I’m really don’t know and other people say in a drugstore !!!!
    It’s a especific mineral oil for finishing ???
    Thanks .

    •  

      Hmm, it might just be something that is sold under a different name. I’m sure one of our friendly Canadian readers can offer a suggestion. But perhaps look for other names like “white oil”, “paraffin oil”, and “liquid petroleum”. Here in the US it is sold as a laxative product in drug stores.

    • Chris January 16, 2013

      any local drug store in canada sells it. I get mine at london drugs.

    • Jared Devers January 25, 2013

      I got mine at Safeway. Go to the pharmacy ask them. Mineral Oil is used as a laxative.

  73. Bill Malloch September 21, 2012

    I have made cutting boards from left over hardwood flooring pieces. I usually used many coats of boiled linseed oil diluted with turpentine as a finish. Some of my boards have now been in use for over ten years with no ill effects. What are your thoughts on using this method of wood treatment.

    •  

      I think it’s fine. I know some will object to the use of turpentine and the fact that BLO has chemical driers added to it. But once the oil cures up, I personally don’t think there is much to worry about. But this is one of those areas where people need to decide for themselves, so I try not to make any definitive claims, only my opinions.

  74. Mark Herzberg October 8, 2012

    I am a beginning woodworker. I made the board with hard maple and jatoba. Beautiful. I noticed during sanding that after I had reached a very fine surface with 220 grit and after a day of rest, the glue lines (TiteBond III) could be felt again as fine lines. Am I right in concluding that the glue expands? Sanding again with fine grit returns the surface to a mirror finish.

    •  

      Yup. The glue line tends to move. And every time the board gets wet, you will feel those joint lines. Just the nature of the beast. I have found though, after a few months of use, a re-sand and re-finish does help to tame the joint lines on a longer term basis. Give that a shot.

  75. Tm Doyle November 4, 2012

    Hay Marc,
    I really liked your video on cutting boards. Your method worked well. I have two questions. 1) Do you apply a wax over the salad bowl finish? 2) If a cutting board had a butcher bolck oil on it and I wanted to use the salad bowl oil would I sand down the cutting board and then apply the salad bowl finish?

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